The Kaleen Tennis Club was one of four around the country to miss out on funding under the sports grants that have left the future of Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie in doubt, while two other Canberra clubs won funding for the same project.
The Kaleen, Reid and Southlands tennis clubs were among 18 which applied for funding to install the national "book a court" online booking system. Reid and Southlands were approved; Kaleen was not.
Kaleen club treasurer Peter Corkran said the club had been disappointed to miss out and didn't know why.
"Absolutely we were expecting [to be successful] from the way Tennis ACT explained the situation to us. We were very confident of getting it with their support," he said.
New revelations emerge each day in the sports grants affair, casting a shadow over Prime Minister Scott Morrison's first agenda-setting speech of 2020 at the Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday.
Auditor-General Grant Hehir found that Senator McKenzie, then sports minister, had ignored recommendations from Sport Australia which had assessed the grants and deliberately distributed grants in the $100 million program according to who held the seat - targeting marginal seats in the 2019 election.
Mr Hehir held up the tennis "book a court" grants as an example of inconsistent decisions and lack of clarity about why some projects were funded while others weren't.
"If particular sports were a focus, it was not evident why some projects for those sports were preferred over others," the audit said. "For example, there were 18 applications received across four states and the Australian Capital Territory for "book a court" tennis projects ranging in grant value from $5960 to $146,720. The decision records did not explain how it was decided which of those would be successful."
This meant that "when informing unsuccessful applicants that they had not been awarded a grant, Sport Australia was unable to communicate the full and actual reasons for the rejection of their application".
Grants were scored by Sport Australia out of 100. Mr Hehir found that 74 would have been the cut-off score if grants had been award according to merit.
The ABC reported on Tuesday that the Pakenham Football in the marginal seat of La Trobe received a $500,000 grant for women's change rooms with a score by Sport Australia of just 50 - the lowest of any group to be funded. The Hawthorn-Malvern Hockey Centre in Treasurer Josh Frydenberg's seat was also given $500,000 with a score of 62.
A roller derby upgrade in the safe Nationals seat of Gippsland missed out despite scoring 98.
The ABC also reported that Sport Australia wrote to Senator McKenzie's then chief of staff Richard Hyett in March objecting to the way the grants were being handled.
Kaleen and Reid are both in the safe Labor seat of Canberra. Southlands is in the safe Labor seat of Bean. Canberra's Senate seats are also reliably divided one apiece between Labor and Liberal. Liberal Senator Zed Seselja announced some of the 13 Canberra grants during the campaign.
Asked whether he spoke with Senator McKenzie's office about ACT applications, Senator Seselja did not answer the question directly but said, through a spokesperson, he had contacted groups and sent them links to apply.
Asked about Kaleen, the spokesperson said, "Questions around which organisations received funding should be directed to the minister's office."
The biggest winners in Canberra were the Canberra Netball Association, which was given $454,000 in the February 2019 round of funding, and the Woden Valley Gymnastics Club. The gymnastics club secured two grants, $200,000 in the first round in December 2018, and another $200,000 in the third round in April 2019. The club's success in gaining two grants is not explained, given Sport Australia had decided to award no more than one grant per organisation, according to the audit.
\While much has been made by Senator McKenzie's supporters of the grants being set up to improve women's access to sport, the audit found that applications that aimed to address gender inequality had a 34 per cent success rate, similar to those that didn't, at 35 per cent.
A project to build unisex facilities at a skating venue, with a top score of 98 points, missed out. Another to build change rooms suitable for all genders scored 94 but missed out.
The Reid and Southlands tennis clubs each received $10,500 for the book-a-court system.
Mr Corkran said with Kaleen missing the grant, people wanting a court had to call the club to get a code giving them access, and there was no general access outside daylight hours.
Asked about the controversy now surrounding Senator McKenzie, he said,"It doesn't really matter where the controversy goes now, the money's out the door. Nobody's likely to go try to retrieve the money. Whether it costs anybody their political position or not, that's beside the point as far as the club's concerned."
Tennis ACT said it was working with Kaleen on another source of funding which would allow it to install the online booking system, but has otherwise not commented.